The main points

  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is also known as ‘wart virus’. There are over 100 different types of HPV. 
  • Most people infected with genital HPV will have no symptoms but can still pass the infection on to others during sex. 
  • Condoms reduce the risk but don’t completely prevent infection. 
  • The Gardasil vaccine is available to year 7 students free of charge, regardless of gender. 

Genital Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is also known as ‘wart virus’. There are over 100 different types of HPV. Certain types of HPV can cause warts in the genitals, other types can cause warts on the hands or feet. Certain types of genital HPV can cause changes to the cells on the surface of the cervix. These changes can be picked up by a Pap Smear. If left untreated a small percentage of patients with these cell changes will develop cancer of the cervix, usually many years later. These types of HPV that can cause cancer of the cervix also increase the risk of cancer of the genital area, anus, throat and mouth. Genital HPV is passed on through having oral, vaginal or anal sex. Genital HPV is so common it’s sometimes called the “common cold of the genitals”. Around four out of five people who have had sex will have acquired genital HPV at some stage.  

How do I know if I have HPV? 

Most people infected with genital HPV will have no symptoms but can still pass the infection on to others during sex. Some people with genital HPV will develop genital warts. Women who have changes to the cells on the surface of the cervix caused by genital HPV usually have no symptoms and the changes are picked up in a Pap Smear. 

How can I prevent genital HPV infection? 

Condoms reduce the risk but don’t completely prevent infection. The Gardasil vaccine is available to year 7 students free of charge, regardless of gender. The vaccine protects against the most common types of genital HPV that can cause genital warts, Pap Smear changes and cancer. 

How can it be treated? 

There is no cure for HPV. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body until it is eventually cleared by your immune system.  There are specific treatments for conditions caused by HPV including genital warts and any abnormalities picked up in Pap Smear.

Disclaimer 

This website provides general information only. The suitability of such general information  varies  from   person  to   person,  depending  on individual circumstances.   You should seek specific medical or legal advice for your individual circumstances.

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The copyright for material on this website is owned by Family Planning Victoria (or, in some cases, by third parties) and is subject to the Copyright Act 1968. We permit you to reproduce or communicate our copyright material if you are a not-for-profit educational organisation, for  the purpose of providing the information to your students provided that you include any disclaimers associated with that material.  Any other reproduction or communication of our material requires our prior consent, via our consent form which you can complete and submit.

Last updated: 5 June 2016

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